“Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.” Mark Twain
Most of us are doing what we can, with what we can, during this strange transition time. Concerts? Well, I know I’m forgetting something for my own concert in ten days, I just am not sure what it is. Most of us are out of practice, what with our forced hibernation, of getting our shows on the road. Some of us have help, for the first time ever, because our “help” is suddenly aware of how much work must be done to get concerts on stage.
Donovan* has help for chorus busy work for the first time since he became music director of a mid-sized community chorus. His Board was always too busy to help with details that were clearly not in the job description of “Music Director” before the Pandemic. But those details still need to be done and Donovan did them when he realized no one else was doing them. Before rehearsals even began, he collated folders and organized, as well as ran, the auditions. Many rehearsals, he set up chairs, helped custodians with risers, made sure the piano light worked for the accompanist and tested sound systems. He configured programs (with program notes he wrote himself) and double checked to see if they had enough ushers for each concert. There was no detail or chore he considered too small or beneath him to do. And his Board allowed it, since if HE was doing those things, THEY wouldn’t have to or even think about them.
In August, the Board and staff members were able to schedule an in-person meeting for the first time since March 2020. All during the time they were Zooming, or having drive-by rehearsals and concerts, Donovan was taking stock of his life and this particular job. He asked himself if he still wanted to work with this community chorus, in addition to his teaching job, and decided he did. But with some caveats; he didn’t want to do the busy, dirty, lousy parts he was being expected to do, even if the organization didn’t realize that’s what was happening. So, the August meeting was a perfect time to bring up these issues during the Music Director’s Report portion of the meeting.
Donovan didn’t have to wait to give his report because during the President’s Report, a few of the tasks he had long done were criticized! In fact, a member of the Board actually asked who was doing them because she couldn’t recall. Donovan mentioned HE was doing them. He enumerated all of the things he was doing besides the music, things like collating music, taking program information to the printer’s and making sure there were enough ushers. He had made a full list in preparation for this meeting and passed them out.
He told them he had really been thinking during the time away how much he loved working with the chorus but hated all the little tasks he was doing to pick up the slack. The Board couldn’t believe he had been doing those things but realized he MUST be since they didn’t know who else would be doing them. The Vice-President thought it was time to take stock of every single task for each concert cycle, beginning with auditions and continuing through concert clean-up.
So, this concert cycle, for the first time during his tenure with this chorus, Donovan is not setting up risers or adjusting piano lights. He didn’t collate a single folder, other than his own, and someone else passed them out. He believes his chorus is not only energized by singing together again but more invested in the chorus. He is looking forward to their concert next weekend and he didn’t take ANYTHING to the printers!
Until next week, be well and be safe.
I am not able to take my Choral Ethics Blogs to my chamber choir’s Facebook page today. Hope to see you again next week!